Another one, you're very lucky, I'm ignoring an essay of determinism for this. Not that there's any contest, not after that beauty of a premiere. It made me cry in different places every time I watched it (5 times so far, will be able 50 by Wednesday). It sounds stupid, but I don't think I've ever seen Ziva looking more beautiful than she did in this episode. Really stupid, I know, but still...hopefully someone will understand what I mean! Anyway, here ye goes...

Warning: Anyone who gets really pissy about water wastage better not includes a shower session that lasts about 3 hours. Don't worry, nothing smutty (unfortunately) :)

Disclaimer: The ignored essay sitting next to me is mine. The open textbook all about determinism is mine. The uncapped biro on said textbook is mine. However, NCIS is not mine. I would do a swapsies in a heartbeat, I assure you, but the offer hasn't been made (yet).

And, um, review if you can! Enjoy!

After all the hugging and clapping, what remains is silence and gazes and tears that he will not let spill. There is a gentle touch on his shoulder, and a man with grey hair and hard blue eyes tells him to take her home. That they need to talk, and he needs to force her, even if she cries like a child.

When she realises, her eyes are wide and frightened and desperate, and she looks too young to touch. He watches her tremble like a leaf, like a building about to collapse, as she follows him into the elevator and watches – mute, dumb – as the doors shut.

There are no words, and so he does not attempt them.

The drive home is dark and every sound is magnified. She stares out of the window with those flat brown eyes and does not seem to see a thing. So many times he opens his mouth to say something – anything – but he has not been able to speak since he watched her walk – wary, guarded, so very afraid – out of the elevator and into the moving, breathing world. He has seen her crumble so many times. He wants to stroke her hair, but doesn't.

The lights flicker on in his apartment, but she stands outside, gazing around with confusion and bewilderment screaming in every bone. His mouth is dry and he thinks his voice will crack, so he motions with his head and finally spits out her name.

"Ziva. Come on."

She steps inside – stares down at the carpet, starts when he shuts the door behind her – and finally meets his eyes with a pleading, childlike expression. Please don't hurt me. Not tonight.

"You need to eat, and then sleep. I'll make up a bed on the sofa, you can have my room." She just looks at him. There is no recognition in her eyes.

"You're welcome, then." The bitterness shocks even him. It makes her flinch, and he is instantly overcome with a billowing wave of regret. It makes him stumble in the kitchen. There is pasta, tinned tomatoes, dried basil. It tastes disgusting and he knows it, but she doesn't complain. She doesn't speak to him.

"You done?" She nods, staring down at her plate, and he takes it away, feeling like a parent. Leaves the dishes in the kitchen for another time. Settles into the chair opposite her, so like interrogation. Her jumpy eyes skid all over the scratched wood of the table. He realises, with a jolt, that she is trying to escape.

From him.

It kills him a little.

He gives up, and tells her to take a shower. Towels are in the bathroom, take as long as you want.

It is then that she breaks apart. Sitting at his kitchen table with grime on her skin and grief on her lips. He hears a sound – more animal than human – and flicks a glance back to where she is curled on his chair. Her fists are shaking on each side of her head, and she tries to pull her hair forwards to cover her face.

In one stride, he is back to her.


There are still no words, and so there is only sobbing. A sobbing girl, and a standing man, and he watches her splinter to pieces at his kitchen table.

Hollowed out and weary, she allows herself to be led to the bathroom. He flicks on the water, and tries not to touch her. Her head is bowed again, but he tilts her chin with his thumb and she does not evade his gaze.

Her eyes make him stumble backwards and shut the door.

He is terrified.

After a while, he relents with his pretences and sits – tired and defeated – outside the door. He can hear the water pour ceaselessly down, but he cannot hear her move, and after calling her name a couple of times, he jimmies the door. And what a sight for sore eyes.

She sits, soaked, naked, in the corner of the shower, curls plastered into submission against her hair, leaving the shape of her skull exposed and young. She rocks herself gently, her wide fearful gaze locked on her knees. She is trembling. The water is freezing.

No words still, and so he sighs with force to break your heart and opens the door gently. Her gaze does not move. His shirt is soaked through almost instantly. The denim of his jeans darkens and becomes heavy. His bare feet cringe at the temperature. His eyes never leave her tiny body.

He does not speak, but crouches down and pulls her onto his lap, unhooking the shower head with his other hand. She is just a ragdoll. He wants to cling to her and never, ever let go, but instead he settles her back against his chest and reaches for the shampoo. Lathers the gel gently into her hair, like a child. The white foam spreads, and he feels her shiver and relax a little under his fingertips. The grime and grease and dirt and blood disappears under the white. It falls and floats down, away from her. He slowly tilts her head back, holds the spray of water away from her eyes with one hand and strokes the other so gently through the dark tangles of her hair. Lifts it away from her ear – first one and then the other – and washes the foam from her beautiful skin. Runs his fingers through the knots until they are clean and undone.

She shifts a little closer to him, and his body curls tighter, more protective. Gingerly trails her fingers over the rough denim of his thighs, marvelling at his existence, at her existence in his lap. Leans her head back onto his shoulder and closes her eyes in exhaustion and relief. He feels her shoulders unclench. He wants to kiss the skin he finds there, but instead reaches for the conditioner. A girl – this one or that one, maybe one in particular – left it in his apartment once, and he never got rid of it. It is thick and pink and in his palm, and he drags it tenderly through the wet tendrils of her hair. Bends her head forward slightly so he can reach the tips. He is sickened at the knobs of her spine shining through her skin, grinning at him. The scars, the bruises, the cuts, burns litter her body like they do the pavement. Pulls her back to him. Breathes steadily into her ear and says nothing, only revels in the ceasing of the electric fire in her bones.

When the water runs clear, he smoothes it back, tight against her scalp, and kisses the back of her head once, almost instinctively. She tenses, ready to spring and attack. A tear might escape his eye, but it could simply be water, and it mingles to soon for us to ever know.

He senses the stiffness in her bones, and feels it reflected in the slight wince as he stands, pulling her gently up with him. Reaches for the soap and kneels. Slowly lifts her left foot and scrubs at the sole until it is freshly pink and clean. Other foot. Ankle. Calf, feels the taut muscle and tired bones as he sluices all that death from her skin. The back of her knee, and she twitches a little as he touches the sensitive skin. He almost smiles.

He slides the soap further up her legs, over the slight round curves of her buttocks and into the beautiful dip of her spine. Rests his chin on her shoulder and looks straight forwards as he slips his hand – that patient, slow, eternally gentle hand – between her legs. The soft curls tickle his palm but he does not change his breathing. She trembles, and he does not know for which of the million reasons it is.

Moves to her stomach, the soft skin achingly taut, the round whorl of her bellybutton collecting bubbles. Round her jutting hips to the tender skin of her back. His hands stroked up and down her skin, loosening the knots, the fears, the oh-so-potent anger and self-loathing. Feel her shiver against you and think what has changed.

He washes her breasts so softly you would think he wasn't there. Like everywhere, they are scarred and grazed, and he swallows bile as he considers what it means. The soaps rich lather feels like velvet on her skin, and the pebbles in the velvet startle him, but only for a second. She blushes, but does not move away. Leans back, meets his gaze and holds it.

Pools of black meet shards of green and do not waver. After everything that has happened, he still makes her feel like that, and she still makes him feel the same.

He glides the soap up her ribs – feels them bleed through the skin and leer at him – and to her shoulders. Every bone stands out and makes him ache. Her collarbone is a vivid line across her chest. But the soft curve of her neck is as he remembers, and as he lifts her arms one by one and washes he like a child, he is suddenly hit with a million recollections.

Ziva sat on his desk, pressed close to his back, leant seductively over his shoulder, Ziva in the mornings and Ziva with the afternoon sun glinting through her curls, Ziva's wide eyes in the glowing light of the bullpen at night, Ziva soaked, Ziva muddy, Ziva holding her breath in a dark cupboard, Ziva throwing punches and not caring who they hit, Ziva trembling with anger and disbelief, Ziva with a gun over his heart, Ziva crushing her lips against his, Ziva moaning with him between her legs, Ziva slapping his hands away, Ziva with broken eyes needing those hands back.

Before he knows it, he is crying silently, the tears running down his cheeks and leaving his chest heaving. She does not move for a while – a second, a minute, an hour, perhaps – and then she turns and clings to him, sobbing too, and the water pours down over them, fractured and imperfect as they are, and he clings to her waist and she clings to his back and they stay like that, drowning in the storm that neither of them will speak of. The hot water changes to lukewarm and then freezing, and neither of them move. His clothes soak through time and time again, and neither of them move. Ziva begins to shiver in the downpour, and neither of them move. His fingers dig into her fragile skin and neither of them move.

He kisses her forehead, and it all collapses around them.

She screams too high to be heard, and he grips her so tightly his fingers turn white and she shakes in his arms and murmurs incomprehensible things, Tony, Tony I'm so, I'm so, I can't, I don't know, I don't, I'm so sorry, I don't deserve this, I don't know why you bother, I don't understand how you can still possibly - care, after everything I've done, Tony, oh Tony, Tony, my Tony, oh Tony, I'm so, I can't...

And all he can do is breathe low and steady in her ear and make her feel the pulsing blood in her veins, and make her be thankful for her beating, beating heart.

And somehow, it is enough.


Like/no like? Tell me...I think it's quite sweet, not as good as how I imagined it in my head, but then it never is, is it? :)